Locked-down SXSW Review: Homecoming -The Journey of Cardboard (Yuko Shiomaki/Anna Thorson Mayer)

Posted on by Gary in Everything, Reviews, South By Southwest | Leave a comment


With the cancellation of this year’s SXSW, many of the films scheduled to screen there were suddenly left without a platform. In lieu of a proper screening, several of the short films officially selected for the 2020 SXSW Episodic Pilot Competition have been made available to screen via Vimeo. Below we review one of those films, Homecoming – The Journey of Cardboard.

Unlike the Mona Lisa or those fucking shiny balloon dogs that look like the Bean multiplied itself while rollicking in its daughters’ metallic-colored piss, your overlooked life is just as important in the daily struggle of our planet. So, where you came from could theoretically matter. And if a lack of narration from Henry Louis Gates Jr. over your ancestry is the high-water mark of failure in your life, consider the trillions upon trillions of other inanimate objects that are similarly un-celebrated. Yes. You are as useless as I myself, and will be sorted right below CARDBOARD, of all things, in the grand Excel spreadsheet listed by decreasing importance.

Except that cardboard, unlike you and I, has a newfound voice. To honor the origins of something as profound as a grapefruit carton, a Japanese reclaimed-cardboard wallet maker tries to bring his material back to its Floridian hometown for a “blessing” of sorts. Replace Dr. Gates’ baritone with that of a contemporary graphics artist dosed with a penchant for ultra-specificity, and the transformation from Finding Your Roots to a very Japanese documentary short is complete. Fuyuki Shimazu’s celebration of the mundane is not unexpected in the age of sub-sub-sub-reddits. Enveloped by oceans of potential knowledge, we are almost encouraged to diversify and become passionately focused in one thing and make irrelevant everyone else’s interests. Only, when you dig further, you find that “someone else is ALSO and ALREADY interested in this shit!?” So we reach for combinatorial esotericism: “Only I am expert on the turquoise crane hawk in the cliffs north of Tonga AND the blue hawking crane of Eastern Seychelles”. This isn’t, of course, a commentary on this short, which is warm and reverent.

But on a facile reflection: should he switch to making cardboard face masks and ventilator bellows, will it make us appreciate the world even more? When the universal units of gravitas have changed, you quickly find everything soaring or crashing on a tornado of an Excel list, which is an indication of how important the list really was in the first place.

Random Indie Music Tournament – Round 3 Preview

Posted on by Ricky in Everything | Leave a comment

Right this way

I already wrote all my shit about these bands in round 2, so for round 3, here is each band performing a song on a late night tv show.

Vote here

Arcade Fire on Letterman

What an introduction to the world. Imagine you had never heard them before and that was the performance. So good

White Strips on Letterman

So weird to see Jack White in his White Stripes outfit. Someone once told me Meg White playing drums reminded him of Pebbles from the Flintstones and ever since, I can’t get that image out of my head.

Interpol on Letterman

Interpol + bright lights don’t work, which is weird because their album was called Turn On The Bright Lights. Not the most excited performance, but I guess that’s Interpol’s MO

Arctic Monkeys on Jools Holland

Man, you forget the Arctic Monkeys were KIDS when they released their debut album.

The Strokes on Letterman

These guys, as always, look like they just came out from a marathon run at some dive bar and are about to go right back.

Franz Ferdinand on Conan

Some tidbits from me about Franz Ferdinand:

1. When I heard it for the first time ever, I immediately played it again just to be like, what the hell did I hear?
2. After I heard that song, I retroactively added it to my best of 2003 mp3 compilation and sent it out again to my friends. Why? I don’t know.

LCD Soundsystem on Letterman

I love how the rest of the band was clapping during this performance.

Flaming Lips on Letterman

Where are the mascots?

Music Venue Bathroom Graffiti: A Pictorial History

Posted on by Paul in Everything | Leave a comment

It’s now been over a month since I last saw a live concert and I’m missing it.

In fact I’m missing everything about going out to live music venues – even the overpriced beer and the tall people who decide they’re going to stand right in front of you at shows. All of this nostalgia for live music had me taking a dive into the archives of my (mostly terrible) music photography from over the years. One thing I noticed was that for awhile, I took photos of graffiti in the washrooms of many of theses venues over the years any time I saw something that amused me.

And since none of us will be going to any concerts or setting foot inside a bar any time too soon, I figured why not take a walk down memory lane, even if it’s to look at a part of the venue that we generally don’t tend to look back on all that fondly. At the very least, it should inspire you to wash your hands yet again.

So here it is, a bunch of random shots of graffiti from various venues, some of them long gone by now.

Hard Luck Bar – April 23, 2010

This was taken at the original location of Hard Luck Bar, a place I can barely even remember now. Clearly the author had some opinions on the venue and didn’t want to wait to express them in a Yelp review.

Unknown Venue – July 3, 2010

No idea where this one was taken and I don’t think it was even a music venue, but this pic serves as a reminder that Myspace was still a thing bands were using to promote themselves in 2010. I will also note the quote from Pulitzer prize winning author Annie Dillard, which certainly classes the place up a bit.

Annex Wreck Room – January 22, 2011

Unknown Venue – April 12, 2011


Sailor Jerry House, SXSW – March 13, 2014

sxsw2014 sailor jerry house
I found this scrawled on the wall at some pop up venue during SXSW. Was this in the original draft of The Force Awakens? Not sure what this was all about but I’m pretty sure I don’t want to know.

Roskilde Festival – July 3, 2014

OK, this one is a legit mural and definitely not graffiti, but the message of “Please! Don’t piss … here!” is a clear indication that this spot was unofficially at least a potential toilet, so I’ll allow its inclusion on this list. I definitely miss music festivals too, but I do not miss the way that they become essentially one giant urinal.

People, whenever we are once again allowed to congregate in open spaces and listen to live music together (and it might be a while still), remember these words and please don’t piss there. Just don’t. But … if you must pee, at least wash your hands afterwards.

In the meantime, check out this video of The Cure performing live at last year’s Roskilde Festival:

Random Indie Music Tournament – Round 2 Preview

Posted on by Ricky in Everything | Leave a comment

Best Coast, NXNE, June 17, 2010, The Great Hall

So this random dude posted a tournament bracket on instagram and well let’s just say it sounds like a good idea to evaluate it and see who should win this! Yes, I’m that bored. I have no idea how he seeded Belle and Sebastian against The Strokes or Bloc Party vs Arcade Fire, but whatever – he did something and I appreciated that. However, it now looks like Round 2 is on the horizon, so let’s takes a look at the matchups because I have already cleaned my apartment twice, repotted my plants and done my taxes.

You can vote here

Yeah Yeah Yeahs vs Arcade Fire

This is a HUGE matchup, I think this is happening too early, but you know – Houston vs Golden State also happened in round 2 so life’s not fair. Both bands had an abundance of success in the 2000s, but I feel that a lot of people’s feelings for Arcade Fire have waned since they seemed a bit excessive with their last release. This feels weird to me because the collective public just decided to completely forget Yeah Yeah Yeah’s last album. Can you name one song off Mosquito?

Ultimately this matchup is about whether you prefer Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ outrageous list of amazing singles – “Maps”, “Y-Control”, “Date with the Night”, “Cheated Hearts”, “Zero” and “Heads Will Roll” or Arcade Fire’s amazing output for their first four albums. I mean, I still remember exactly where I was when I heard Funeral for the first time.

Both bands have amazing live sets and managed to break into the mainstream, with Arcade Fire surprisingly winning the Grammys a few years back and Yeah Yeah Yeah’s Glee thing. It’s a toss-up but I feel people generally love Karen-O more then anyone on Arcade Fire.

The White Stripes vs The National

The White Stripes’ candle didn’t burn very long, but certainly burned the brightest. With their stripped down rock and roll, unique aesthetics and curious back story, they were one of the front runners that help kicked off the early 2000s indie rock movement (whatever you want to call it). “Seven Nation Army” may have the most famous riff of the past 30 years and Jack White is among today’s most well known musicians. However, they might be a band where the star is more well known then their music these days (aside from that one song)

The National are the complete opposite. Here’s a low key band that has steadily grown over the past twenty years to become festival headliners. They’ve done it by releasing solid album after solid album (until the last one) and frankly, you wouldn’t even know if you were standing besides Matt Berninger at a Walmart, unless he had an open bottle of wine in his hand.

In reality, I can’t name fifteen songs from either band, but I listen to the National much more then the White Stripes these days, so they’ve got my vote.

Interpol vs The Shins

Interpol alienate a lot of people, who mock their aesthetic in a way that they don’t mock other band’s aesthetics from that time period. Of course, if you read Meet Me in the Bathroom, then you would know they were a bit nuts.

Still, their self titled album was absolutely unique and amazing. Their sophomore effort Antics also gave us two of their best singles – “Slow Hands” and “Evil”, which gave me one of my favorite things to scream into a microphone during karaoke: “ROSEMARY!!! – Heaven restores you in life”

Interpol’s “Specialist” was also part of a pivotal moment in The OC Season 1, which also featured Nada Surf’s incredible cover of OMD’s “If You Leave.” Clearly, a top 10 music-TV episode of all time.

Anyways, they are matched up against The Shins who should have never made it past round one or been in this tournament.


Arctic Monkeys vs Beirut/Yo La Tengo (doesn’t matter)

It’s amazing that the incredible, incredible hype that came with Arctic Monkeys from the UK media machine did not crush the band on arrival.

Arctic Monkeys came into my life via either music forum or blogs. At the time, I was obsessed with The Libertines and really, it was a weird period where you were just getting all these bootlegs and demos of songs for some reason. Probably because I was young and didn’t have to manage 35 people and attend seven straight meetings in a row. Anyway, when the Libertines self destructed, the Arctic Monkeys were there to take over and boy, did they ever. I still remember the hype at Lee’s Palace for their first ever North America show and they didn’t even fuckin’ sing “Mardy Bum,” their biggest song at the time. This was a band that knew what they wanted, and they actually became quite popular. I think they actually just skipped past the indie rock crowd into just plain rock.

Either way, they definitely will be advancing to the next round.

The Strokes vs Wilco

The leather vs the jean jacket.

People easily dismiss the Strokes these days, but don’t tell me they don’t know the lyrics to all the songs off Is This It?. You can’t get a greater contrast in style then this one.

Franz Ferdinand vs Spoon

This one should be closer then you think – Franz Ferdinand will be forever beloved for their debut album and what might be one of the greatest debut singles of all time. You STILL lose your shit to “Take Me Out” when it hits the dance floor. I think most people expected them to somehow move on and expand their sound drastically or something but when they released more albums that were equally danceable pop, they were disappointed. Yet, if you listen to their latter work, it’s still good.

Someone once described Spoon’s music as “I don’t know how to put it, but when you hear a song from Spoon – you know it’s Spoon because they sound like everyone but no one sounds like them” They are the embodiment of being consistently solid. They are like Jerk King, one of my favorite places to eat, it’s not the best place to eat, but when you are eating it – you are happy. I dunno if that makes sense.

M83 vs LCD Soundsystem

M83 has had a strange career – in the early 2000s they were one of those bands everyone loved to introduce other people to. “Oh have you heard M83? They are this cool new French electronic band, you should check them out. They are gonna be big I think” and then all of a sudden, “Midnight City” dropped and they became huge that year. And then everyone forgot about them. Very strange. Remember how great French Electronic music was from 2007-2010? I think it inspired the movie Drive. That dude was like, “I fucking love this moody French electronic music, so good to drive to in the middle of the night. Let’s make movie about that and also have someone stomp a guy to death in an elevator.”

Anyways, LCD Soundsystem is the best. Their concerts are cathartic and if you haven’t been to a LCD Soundsystem show with your arms around all your friends singing and dancing to “ALL MY FRIENDS” then what were you doing during the past twenty years?

The Flaming Lips vs TV on the Radio

Because of the stories that have plagued the Flaming Lips in recent times, people forget just how absolutely bonkers and amazing seeing the Flaming Lips for the first really is. Let’s be real, your first Flaming Lips show (if they are still together) will be one of your most memorable shows ever – the hamster ball thing, the confetti, the dancing mascots, the way the show is put together so that everyone builds up to “Do You Realize?” Good memories.

TV on the Radio will be forever one of those super cool bands from that time period that people know about, but don’t know about. My only lasting memory of TV on the Radio was during SXSW when they were staying in the same hotel as me, and I got on the same elevator with them but half of them were wearing animal onesies for some reason. Still, Return to Cookie Mountain was a great album, not sure it measures up to an appearance on Beverly Hills 90210 though.

Okay, go vote.